OP-ED

Hard Circumstances Forces Woman to Sell Alcohol

Asma al-Mohattwari

The cruelty of life, society, needs and wants; all these are things may destroy someone’s life and make them easy prey for exploitation. Sua’ad’s life was normal as in girl of her age. She was living happily with her parents and her three sisters in their small house. Everything in her life turned upside down when her father divorced her mother and she was left with extremely difficult family circumstances. Her mother was the family’s sole provider. She worked to provide them with food. Sua’ad’s mother started working in neighboring houses, assisting women with cleaning, cooking, and other household chores. In return, she received small amounts of money or food to give to her children. But when Sua’ad’s mother was diagnosed with heart disease, the children began suffering from hunger.

Sua’ad was forced to take her mother’s place and went out to find work. “During university, I worked in a coiffure, and completed my studies with a very difficult times,” she says.

They experienced different kinds of harassment and humiliation from the owner of their house because they couldn’t pay rent and sometimes they couldn’t even buy medicine for their mother. After graduating, Sua’ad gave her C.V to the civil service and looked for another job. She was forced to work at a call center with a very low salary that was barely enough for her transportation. Unfortunately, there she met a man who had extensive relationships and promised her a better job opportunity.

He gave her a job by making her a messenger between him and a group of women to give them bags without knowing what was inside. Then she discovered that they were selling alcohol. One of the women convinced her to work with them selling alcohol. She met a woman who gave her bags to distribute to customers. “Frankly, during my work for two years, I was dealing with only 3 women. I took the bags and customers telephone numbers, and then came back with the cost of the bags. I wanted to know their factories, but I failed,” she added.

Her family had no idea about her job and thought that she was working as a cosmetics and detergents sales rep. Instead, she was selling alcohol to men, women, and Gulf families. Most of her customers were from the middle class, where higher classes bought from other places. She worked with other girls, some of them without the permission of their families and others with permission because of poverty.

Days passed, and one day Sua’ad went to deliver an order for a woman in her forties. The woman invited Sua’ad to chew Qat with her and suddenly a man appeared and tried to harass her. “I felt scared, and left quickly, and here I just said to myself, thank God, it’s good after this period, I can still withdraw without loss, and no one knows my name or my address. That day I decided to repent and stop my work, even if we die.”

A week after she left, one of her colleagues called her and asked her to work in embroidery. She worked for six months then got a governmental job. Now her life has improved.

Sua’ad calls on the state and civil society organizations to compete to find homes to accommodate widows and the poor and to pay more attention to women who got out from prisons, because they are easy victims and there is no other option for them than the street. “Families have to focus on giving their daughters care and religious morals.”